How To Find Hidden Assets During Your Michigan Divorce
The list of things to consider when you’re in the beginning stages of divorce can seem overwhelming, especially when determining asset value and division. But what if your soon-to-be ex-spouse is hiding assets? How do you find out? And what can you do about it?
What the Law Says
In Michigan, it is illegal for a spouse to hide assets from the other spouse during a divorce. Both spouses must list the assets that both own in order for the court to make a fair and equitable decision regarding the division.
If a spouse is discovered to have hidden property, the court considers that fraud. If the spouse refuses to disclose property during discovery, that person can be held in contempt of court.
Also, upon discovery of the hidden or non-disclosed asset, the judge can assess fines, and may even order the entirety of the hidden property go to the other spouse.
Ways to Hide Assets
It’s also not unusual for a spouse committing fraud to involve another party to help hide the property, such as starting bank accounts or trust funds for that third party.
Paper printouts of bank statements, receipts, and other financial statements may be destroyed. Cash may be “invested” into items that can be hidden, such as cars, jewelry, etc.
But there are ways to find the assets.
Where to Look
Income tax returns are some of the best places to find documentation that an asset may be hidden.
The first places to look on the 1040 are the income and wages section, the interest and dividend section, and the retirement plan distribution section.
Additionally, check Schedule A for itemized deductions and miscellaneous deductions. Check Schedule B for foreign accounts you may not have been aware of. Schedule C, if your spouse is a sole proprietor, can give you information about the income and expenses of the business. And Schedule E will list any income-generating assets, such as real estate, trusts, and investments.
Bank accounts, investment accounts, trust funds, and other assets can be found online as well, so be sure to enlist a law firm that has with experience with these types of searches.
When to Call in the Experts
You can ask for your spouse to simply provide you with the financial documents and statements needed for asset disclosure.
If your spouse refuses, or you feel he or she is hiding information, your next step is to enlist the help of your attorney and begin the process of discovery.
During discovery, demands can be made for financial statements and other paperwork. Interrogatories are where your spouse will have to respond in writing to questions about assets.
Once you’ve received some of the documents above, you can also have your spouse questioned in a deposition, where he or she will have to testify under oath.
When selecting an attorney to help you with this, you want one with experience in discovering hidden assets during divorce to guide you through the process. Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate divorce. Give us a call at 248-723-5190.
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